For this post I’ll go into how to make a beautiful close up using natural light. We shot this close up at 1:30pm. I love to use back light as much as possible. I never find that it bumps in the edit when every direction is backlit. This is something you have to get out of your head. Remember, whatever looks good, looks good. We can cheat a little and control light a little to make it more appealing to the eye. I try to shoot my wide shots first when the light is perfect, and also because I cannot change the direction of the sun in wide shots. Wish I could. HAHA!!! Then when the sun is too high and looks flat, you come for the close up and shape and change the direction of the sun to your liking.
There will be times when I embrace the flat frontal light on someone instead of making every direction backlit, but this is a creative choice just like making every direction backlit. In Crazy/Beautiful I embraced the hard frontal sunlight to add to the drama of the scene when she fell asleep on the beach and Carlos was so in the moment that he forgot about the interview with Nicole’s Dad for getting into Annapolis. Carlos’s direction is backlit but I used the intense sun to get us into the scene by burning Nicole’s face out and then closing down on the exposure to bring it to a balanced image.
With Kyra’s shot, at 1:30pm the sun was high in the sky and easy to manipulate using overheads. Here’s what the shot looks like with specs written on the bottom left:
Now let’s take a look at the sun position and blocking for this shot.
As explained in part three of this series, we start this scene with three 12×12 solids on the ground and two 12×12 frames to create a nice down side on their faces to the camera. Here’s a top down schematic of the current, but not final, setup of this shot:
How to shape the light with negative fill and diffusion overhead frames
With this set up, we managed to create nice contrast on the down side of Kyra’s face. However, at 1:30pm, Kyra has a strange cut of light coming across her face.
To get rid of that light strip on her face, we bring in our overhead. In this case it is a 12×12 light grid cloth frame.
With the light grid cloth frame, our light has been softened.
Changing the direction of the sun by using mirror and reflector boards
This is starting to look good, but now we are completely missing the sun. To bring it back so our light looks less flat, I’m going to use natural light. We are going to bring in two different devices to shape one hard source (the sun).
With the Reflector Board, we want to mimic the sun. At this time of day around 1pm, the sun is very high, so we raise the mirror board up and angle it so it creates a nice backlight on Kyra, matching the sun’s height of 9:30am, not 1pm, because this is too high. Remember, because backlight is beautiful.
Here’s what the image looks like with the backlight. The sun is back!
Doing the final tweaks to finesse the close up
Now let’s take a look at the shot. It’s looking good, but now Monette’s hat is taking attention away from Kyra. Monette’s hat is too white.
To fix this problem, I’m going to bring in a 2×3 solid to darken Monette’s hat. I’m going to use it as a topper, and it also will be a lens flag.
The 2×3 solid adds nice contrast in the foreground of the shot, bringing more attention to Kyra.
The last thing we will add to this shot is a nice round circle bounce.
This will add a nice reflection in Kyra’s eyes, ambience, and nice contrast.
- We have three 12×12 solids on the ground to prevent unnecessary fill light kicking up from the dirt.
- There are two 12×12 frames to help darken the down side to camera.
- We brought in a 12×12 light grid cloth frame to soften the light
- We have cheated a natural backlight by ricocheting the sun with a Matthews Mirror Board, into a Matthews Reflector board, which then is aiming the light at Kyra’s back.
- A 2×3 solid was placed over Monette’s hat to darken it and create nice contrast in the foreground.
- I bring in a round bead board bounce to add some nice reflection into Kyra’s eyes.
- Finally, do what looks good. Backlight is beautiful, and when the sun is high in the sky, it is easier to shape with overheads.
Here is a top down schematic of the setup:
16:9 Digital Capture
1080p Capture and Delivery
Canon EOS C300 (EF Mount)
Freefly MōVI M15
Hocus Products Axis 1 Wireless Follow Focus System